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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Litigants: Show up...or Shut Up!

The courts give litigants much latitude to assert their procedural due process rights.   (This is a principle for which I am thankful I had Owen Fiss as a professor many years ago at Yale.)   But litigants should be willing, and available, to show up in court for their cases.

I have had the recent experience of suing some professional deadbeats -- lawyers, in fact -- who have pulled every trick short of fleeing the country in order to avoid their day of reckoning.  After many delays, I obtained a judgment against these people.   But that hasn't stopped them.   Now they have submitted a pleading -- if you can call the pathetic sheaf of looseleaf papers they mailed me that -- but waived their right to appear in court to argue on their behalf.   

Due process is meant to protect people's rights.   It is despicable when due process rights are abused so some people can just delay their day of reckoning.  

Fortunately, the courts often allow for sanctions and other relief, such as post-judgment interest.   The scoundrels sometimes win...but many times they do not.  

The lesson:   Be persistent. 

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